Mutiny: on the Bounty

We have the video of POTUS Donald Trump tossing paper towels into the crowd on Puerto Rico.

Fortunately, Bounty is made by Proctor & Gamble, a fine US (continent) company.

Puerto Rico is broke (to put it nicely; roughly eighty billion dollars in debt with no real assets) and now their crops are gone (and their houses.)

But, thanks to Donald Trump, they now have very nice paper towels. Perhaps Mister Trump believes the commercials: that the paper towels can clean up any mess.

That makes him today’s Person of Interest.

United? Nations?

This post is about Justin Trudeau, today’s Person of Interest.

Here you will find one (of many) analyses of Trudeau’s speech to the UN. I will content myself with these observations:

  • Given the large number of international concerns running right now, it is odd that Trudeau would talk about how badly we’ve treated our aboriginal people.
  • Given that the UN will have no part in fixing a purely Canadian internal problem, it is odd that Trudeau would mention it on this particular stage.
  • A cynic might think that, by exposing our ‘dirty underwear’ Trudeau is trying to distract public attention from other real problems, including: broken voting reform promise; blowback on tax reform; dealing with Donald Trump.

There are, imho, many things Trudeau could have tried for progress or at least consensus on, including these:

  • Cholera in Yemen
  • Bombing of citizens in Serbia
  • Isolation of Qatar (mostly by Saudi Arabia)
  • North Korea with rockets and h-bombs
  • Hurricanes and Global Warming, and warming nay-sayers
  • Earthquakes in Mexico
  • The continuing fiasco in Haiti, where years later, little has been accomplished despite large amounts of money going to NGOs there, and a lot going to the US Army there (research this if you don’t believe me.)
  • Political and economic disaster in Venezuela, Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Argentina.

Oh well. Sunny ways here, and dirty laundry at the UN.

Pete Seeger and Donald Trump

Here is a hotlink to a YouTube (sound only) recording of Pete Seeger: Last Train to Nuremberg. You may wonder what this has to do with anything.

I saw this performed live in a taping of the Tommy Hunter show, decades ago. Seeger came out and said something like: “I’m going to play some songs for you, and we’re going to ignore all these technical people milling about.” He did, and they did. At one point some twit kept saying, ‘cut, Pete,’ and he didn’t.

Seeger played and sang Last Train to Nuremberg, explaining that he, in all honesty, played this song in every engagement. Simple as that.

Of course the Pete Seeger segment of the Tommy Hunter Show was short, and omitted the protest song. Of course.

Nuremberg was (you maybe knew this already) the site of war criminal trials. Listen to the song a few times; it’s free: Seeger’s song tells us that we are all complicit. Simple as that.

Donald Trump got elected. We are all complicit. Simple as that.

Donald Trump will tear the USA apart. We are all complicit. Simple as that.

The American magazine Atlantic has a couple of articles (among many) about this.

I expect readers of this blog to click on hotlinks and think for themselves. I’ll content myself with one quote from each, emphasis mine:

The trick here is that the administration and this shadow government are one and the same. Even as the public government sputters, other elements of the Trump administration are quietly remaking the nation’s regulatory landscape, especially on the environment and criminal justice.

The 45th president, Donald Trump, might pose the gravest threat to the constitutional order since the 37th. Of course, he might not. Perhaps we’ll get Grown-up Trump, an unorthodox and controversial president who, whatever one may think of his policies and personality, proves to be responsible and effective as a chief executive. But we might get Infantile Trump, an undisciplined narcissist who throws tantrums and governs haphazardly. Or perhaps, worse yet, we’ll get Strongman Trump, who turns out to have been telegraphing his real intentions when, during the campaign, he spread innuendo and misinformation, winked at political violence, and proposed multiple violations of the Constitution and basic decency. Quite probably we’ll get some combination of all three (and possibly others).

The Atlantic rejected my poems decades ago. I once owned an issue which dealt with the gun used in a massacre in the USA. (Loaned the mag and lost it. Damn!) Atlantic is a very fine magazine and I have no reason to trumpet it. No special interest. They don’t like me.

Pete Seeger is deceased. If you click on the hotlink at left, you’ll find out what else he did as a protest songwriter/singer.

Donald Trump is very much alive. If you google search for Trump News, you’ll see his/our latest folly.

We are all culpible. If we let this go on.

OK, dumb question?

What will you (personally) do about this?

 

One Big Wheel

This is a metaphor.

We are watching a circus performer on a flat stage riding a unicycle. It’s a bit unsteady, to say the least. Help or advice are not accepted. Balancing corrections are happening all the time. Almost random changes of direction seem to be built into this situation.

Now the performer announces that he’s the biggest wheel rider, ever. The wheel expands to match his ego. Stability does not improve.

This post is under ‘Person of Interest’ category. It does include a dumb question.

Can you guess who the Big Wheel rider is? Will he fall off?

Minimum Wage, and Galen Weston

Here you will find that Galen Weston made some 8.5 million dollars two years ago. His most recent salary is, I believe, over nine million dollars.

Galen would have us believe that the new minimum wage will put his company in difficulty. Some $190 million per year in extra expense. Let me quote a few parts of that article. Emphasis mine.

“We are flagging a significant set of financial headwinds and the organization is mobilizing all of its resources to see whether or not it can close that gap,” Loblaw chair and CEO Galen Weston Jr. told analysts during a quarterly earnings conference call.

Earlier Wednesday, Loblaw reported a second-quarter profit attributable to shareholders of $358 million, or 89 cents per diluted share, up from its profit of $158 million or 39 cents per diluted share a year ago.

I can, perhaps, be forgiven for thinking that Galen Weston and his company can afford to pay his employees a living wage.

I can, perhaps, be forgiven for suspecting that the $190 million is not a deliberate underestimate. I’ll bet it’s worst possible case.

I can, perhaps, be forgiven for noting that the year over year difference in profit is $200 million, and that’s for a quarter – not the whole year. So they have $610 million extra after covering the minumum wage hike.

I used to like Galen Weston. Oh well. Have a nice day.

Pope Francis: Challenges

There are four persons of interest here. Let me start at the top, with Pope Francis.

I am not Catholic, although I volunteered twice a week at a Catholic charity. For twelve years. I respect the faith of others. I deeply appreciate this Pope’s rapprochement where others want to exclude, to use Francis’ own words, the less perfect.

We may not remember the scandal at the Vatican Bank, where it was actually claimed that money launderers used that facility to conceal and move ill-gotten gains. From what I recall in the news, those claims likely had merit. And, to fix the problem, Francis installed Cardinal Pell as his top financial adviser – the third most powerful Catholic in the world.

Pell is our second Person of Interest. He did seem to be cleaning up the Bank quite nicely. There is a problem, though, and Pell is being accused of turning a blind eye to sexual abuse, and apparently lately, to perhaps having committed some himself.

A year ago Pell refused to travel back to Australia where he was Archbishop at the time of the alleged offences and coverups. His health prevented this. Apparently his health could prevent him from attending the preliminary hearing as well (see above hotlink.)

Our third person of interest is Tim Minchin, who over a year ago posted a video of a song which he wrote challenging Pell to ‘Come Home’ to Ballarat in Australia. Apparently Minchin donated proceeds to help the abused and their relatives to travel to Italy to watch the proceedings. My memory is, they weren’t allowed in and watched via closed circuit TV.

Our fourth person of interest is another Catholic. Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller will not have his five-year mandate as Catholicism’s chief theologian renewed. Müller was appointed by Benedict in 2012 and needs (and won’t get) renewal when five years is up.

Apparently (read the hotlinked article, eh?) Müller has been a bit of a thorn in Francis’ side. Here’s a few quotes from the article. Emphasis mine.

The two did not see eye-to-eye, with Cardinal Müller questioning Pope Francis’s attempts to being more open to “imperfect” Catholics, like those who are divorced.

Earlier this year, a victim of sexual abuse within the Church accused Cardinal Müller’s department of impeding the Pontiff’s efforts to stop internal cover-ups of abuse.

Müller is (was, actually) the second most powerful Catholic in the world.

Tim Minchin is still Tim Minchin.

Luckily, Francis is still, so far as I can tell, exactly what he’s always claimed to be:

  • the front face of reconciliation for Catholics who are imperfect.
  • financially incorruptible, and trying to clean house where needed.
  • sensitive to abuse: it should be stopped, and covering it up prevents that.

May God have mercy on us all. Pope Francis could use a little help here, too, imho.

James Comey: symptom of ??

Here you will find a UK page on the firing of FBI Director James Comey. By, of course, POTUS Donald Trump.

I will content myself with a few observations. You can read the article by clicking the above hotlink.

Insiders think Comey was fired because he was closing in on Trump and Trump associates with connections to Russia.

Trump said Comey was fired because he messed up the handling of Hilary Clinton’s private eMail server. I won’t bother doing the search, but you can check out this claim: at the time, Trump praised Comey for damaging Hilary.

Comey asked for more resources, and went from weekly to daily updates.

Some commentators and newspapers, including The New York Times, have suggested the President disposed of Mr Comey in a frantic bid to prevent his own impeachment.
That is a quote.

The Pledge of Allegiance has had several small tweaks, as you can find in Wikipedia. Here is one version:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Unfortunately, when I say it in my head, I hear the ending as:

libertine justice, for all?

For American readers: are you feeling a growing sense of unease here?

For Trump supporters, is there any conceivable evidence that would shake your undying support for your current President?

For readers (not many, eh?) in other countries, does the current ‘stability’ of the USA let you sleep soundly?

What does it mean when a President fires the head of an agency investigating: questions about his associates, his election (was it manipulated by the Russians), and his former National Security Advisor?

Comey went gentle into that good night. Here’s a final quote:

Mr Comey has not given any interviews since his dismissal, but said in a farewell letter to his colleagues at the FBI: “I have long believed that a president can fire an FBI director for any reason, or for no reason at all. I’m not going to spend any time on the decision or the way it was executed. I hope you won’t either. It is done.”

A final dumb question: do you think Comey is going to be silent forever?

A Telling Show

Today we have two persons of interest.

I am a writer. One thing all writers should think about is ‘Show not Tell.’ For a fine explanation of that, go here and see how Shirley Jump explains it.

The second person of interest, fascination even, is Donald Trump.

Here is one place where some of Trump’s tweets have been gathered. I’ll select just a few words to show that Trump is telling.

  • Mainstream (FAKE) media
  • China & its highly respected President
  • We are making tremendous progress
  • Terrible!
  • Relationships are good-deal very possible!
  • Sad!
  • The U.S. recorded its slowest economic growth in five years (2016). GDP up only 1.6%. Trade deficits hurt the economy very badly.
  • First the Ninth Circuit rules against the ban & now it hits again on sanctuary cities-both ridiculous rulings. See you in the Supreme Court!

I could go on, but if you go through the above list, you’ll probably agree that most, if not all, the italicized words (emphasis mine) are not substantiated with any facts.

We’ve been told. It’s a telling show.

Jeff Sessions: a message, eh?

Here you will find a bbc news article about Jeff Sessions and his complaint.

I will tease you with a few quotes. Emphasis mine.

“I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the President of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and Constitutional power,” he said on The Mark Levin Show.

Senator Mazie Hirono shared an image of the unanimous Senate vote that confirmed Judge Waston, which “includes a ‘yea’ vote” from Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. “Mr. Attorney General: You voted for that judge. And that island is called Oahu. It’s my home. Have some respect,” Senator Brian Schatz continued.

“Please don’t dis[respect] Hawaii as it gives us papaya, coffee, helicopter parts and the last competent president,” another continued.

One Illinois resident added: “We should let @jeffsessions know that New Mexico is a state too. Otherwise the wall might get built in the wrong place.”

Now for the dumb questions. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

Has Trump turned much of the US government into a say-anything thoughtless herd?

Does Jeff Sessions know who he is and who he voted for?

Does any of this matter, at least in the rule-by-twitter era?

Kushner, and Great Companies

Jared Kushner doesn’t get it. Here‘s an obscure (to me) news source that echoes what I’ve seen elsewhere, including the Toronto Star. I’ll give a few quotes, emphasis mine.

This assumption is widespread in American politics: that competence in business translates to competence in politics. In 2012, during his presidential campaign, Mitt Romney said he’d like a provision in in the Constitution to “say that the president has to spend at least three years working in business before he could become president of the United States.” But is there any evidence for this belief? Historians haven’t found any.

Sean Illing Let me start by reading you a recent quote from Jared Kushner: “We should have excellence in government. … The government should be run like a great American company. Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens.”I’m not sure the axiom that business and politics are equivalent can be expressed more clearly than this. What’s your response?

Gautam MukundaThe government should be run as well as a great American company, but that’s profoundly different from saying it should be run like a great American company — those are two completely different things.The first and most obvious problem with that is that American citizens are not customers. Someone has to tell Jared Kushner that citizens are his boss, not his customers. When you’ve inherited your job, that might be difficult to understand, but it’s an important idea.

Gautam Mukunda It’s not that there are no skills in common. If you asked me, would the CEO of a randomly selected, highly successful company do a better job as president than a person you selected at random off the street, I’d say yes. But we don’t, the most recent election excepted, select our presidents at random off the street. We select them from a pool of people who have been governors or senators or congresspeople. So that’s your comparison set.Now let’s talk about the differences between running a democracy and a company, which are profound. First, there are differences in ends. Companies are supposed to run at a profit. If your government is running at a profit, you have a problem; it’s not an indicator of success. More broadly, almost all companies have a level of authority that flows upward that much more resembles a dictatorship than a democracy.

Kushner is a number of interesting ‘things.’ He’s the husband of Ivanka Trump, whose nude photos came out during the campaign. (I’d hate to have a beautiful wife whose erogenous zones are on public display.)
He’s an unpaid white house occupant who has not distanced himself from his businesses, much like his father-in-law.

He’s today’s person of interest.